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Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate

The Hard-Soft School:
The name Goju is quoted from a line in the Chinese Eight Poems written in the Bubishi, "Ho go ju donto", the way of inhaling and exhaling is hardness and softness. Goju-Ryu refers to the dual nature of the style, the "hard" (Go) aspect of Goju is the power and speed of the techniques, the "soft" (Ju) aspect refers to the relaxation of the body and the smooth flow of movement, the philosophy of Goju Karate is having a balance of the two. The Goju-Ryu style believes that the opposites are complementary. If one is attacked fiercely (Go), then one defends with Ju and vice versa.

Brief History:
Goju-Ryu has its orgins in Okinawa where Master Higaonna Kanryo Sensei (1853-1915) who traveled to China to study Kempo and then returned to Okinawa to integrate it into the Okinawan art of Naha-te. Miyagi Chojun (1888-1953) was Kanryo Sensei's top student and sucessor to Okinawan Naha-te, until 1933 when he formally registered the name "Goju-Ryu" at the Butoku-Kai (the Japanese Martial Arts Association), although Sensei Miyagi named his system in 1931 from a line from a poem in the book "Bubishi". Around 1931 Miyagi Chojun, while living in Tokyo, met Gogen "The Cat" Yamaguchi and together they developed their understanding of karate. When Sensei Miyagi Chojun died in 1953 Sensei Gogen Yamaguchi became the head of Goju karate in Japan.

Today karate is highly fractionalized. Some groups identify with the Goju-Kai organization in Japan, others with Okinawan Goju-Ryu, from its Grandmaster Kanryo Higaonna, to his deciple Grandmaster Chojun Miyagi, to his uchi deshi Sensei Miyaga An'ichi to his uchi deshi Sensei Morio Higaonna who today is head of the International Goju-Ryu Karate-Do Federation (IOGKF).

Story of Okinawa:
Okinawa is the largest of the Ryukyu islands in the West Pacific. During the 14th century the middle part of Okinawa (Chuzan), enered into a subordinate relationship with China, this relationship included paying tribute to the Chinese Emperor. The Chuzan Kingdom began to send many people to China (emissaries, students, businessmen, traders etc.), likewise many Chinese traveled to Okinawa. As a result of this many Chinese customs and traditions where adopted to Okinawa, this included an exposure to the Chinese fighting arts, this began the spread of kempo throughtout Okinawa.

In 1470 the new Sho Dynasity (Reign of King Sho Shin) banned all carrying of weapons, all weapons were confiscated. This spurred the birth of two main schools of combat. The first was known simply as 'te'. "Te" refers to hand or "tode" (China Hand). This was developed and practiced largely by members of the nobility. The second school of combat was known as Ryukyu kobudo.

Ryukyu kobudo was the study of weapons largely practiced by farmers and fisherman. It focused on the study of simple farm implements and fishing tools as weapons. Practice in both methods of combat took place in private and mostly by night.

The invasion by Japan of Okinawa by the Satsuma clan in 1609 (Reign of King Sho Nei) continued the ban on weapons which further fueled the growth of the underground fighting arts. Okinawa had become a puppet state of Japan and the Shogun Leyasu maintained the weapons ban and forced Okinawa to continue a facade of loyalty to China.

After the Meiji restoration in Japan, the Ryukyu Dynasty was declared a territory of Japan. In 1879 under the Meiji government, the Ryukyu Dynasty was made into Japanese magistrate.

Grandmaster Higaonna Kanryo-1853-1915

Grandmaster Miyagi Chojun-1888-1953

Grandmaster Gogen "Cat" Yamaguchi-1909-1989

Master Miyaga An'Ichi- Chairman & Advisor to the IOGKF

Master Morio Higaonna- Chief Instructor & Chairman of the IOGKF

Some excerts are from "Traditional Okinawa Goju-Ryu Karatedo- Book 1" by Morio Higaonna and "Classical Kata of Okinawan Karate" by Pat McCarthy

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